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La. AG: Feds' ban on offshore drilling could be disaster

By John O'Brien | Jun 21, 2010


NEW ORLEANS (Legal Newsline) - Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and Gov. Bobby Jindal are asking that a ban on offshore drilling be lifted.

The two filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit filed by Hornbeck Offshore Services, which wants to remove the six-month moratorium imposed by the U.S. Department of the Interior in response to the BP explosion and oil spill.

"Offshore oil and gas exploration and production are critical components of Louisiana's economy, which was already weakened by (Hurricane) Katrina and is now crippled by the Deepwater Horizon disaster," the brief says.

"With each passing day, the (Mineral Management Service) moratorium further threatens the economic livelihood of the state and its citizen."

The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April, killing 11 workers and producing an underwater oil spill that has yet to be solved.

Caldwell's brief says the moratorium can have long-term implications. Two companies have already invoked clauses in their contracts that would allow them to move as many as four rigs out of the Gulf of Mexico.

"Once these companies move their rigs, there is little chance for their immediate return at the end of the moratorium, as they will have made long-term commitments at their new locations in Brazil, Africa or the Middle East," the brief says.

"By the end of the six-month moratorium (which is scheduled but by no means certain), there will likely be no deepwater rigs available to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Having to wait an additional year or more for available rigs will turn the short-term adverse effects of the moratorium into a long-term economic disaster for Louisiana."

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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